|Jevon Kearse applauds teammates from the sideline, where he'll be for a while.(AP)|
"This is the way we felt years ago," Titans receiver Kevin Dyson said. "We kept fighting and found a way to win. We never felt like we were out of it."
The Titans, who lost five games at home in going 7-9 last season, had plenty of reason for pessimism. They had led only once in the game, 7-0 after their opening drive, and turned the ball over four times.
They lost three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jevon Kearse on the second play from scrimmage with a broken left foot. He will have surgery Monday, and will be sidelined 6-to-8 weeks. They also had several players battling cramps in 90-degree heat.
Even a ruling on an onside kick by the Eagles went against them.
"No one blinked an eye," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "They just kept playing, and I'm especially proud of them."
The defense sacked McNabb six times, intercepted him twice and shut down the Eagles in the second half. Philadelphia had 261 yards of total offense but only 78 in the second half. McNabb was 18-of-36 for 212 yards and threw for three touchdowns.
The defending NFC East champions had two chances in the final 3:03, but the Eagles went three-and-out on their first possession. On the Eagles' last possession, rookie Carlos Hall sacked Donovan McNabb for the third time, knocking the ball loose and Titans end Kevin Carter recovered with 1:12 to go.
That set off euphoria for the Titans.
Not for the Eagles, who led 24-10 at halftime and didn't score again.
"This goes on my shoulders," Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said. "This is my fault, and I take the full responsibility for it. I need to do a better job of being more aggressive in the second half and putting the players in a better position, and that is what I will do."
Reid had McNabb handing off in the second half, and that is when the Eagles bogged down. McNabb said part of the problem came from the Titans disguising their defenses.
"We know that with the number of guys they were bringing that we had to get rid of the ball quick," McNabb said.
The momentum shifted for good with Philadelphia leading 24-13 at the end of the third quarter.
Andre Dyson intercepted a pass from McNabb. The Titans then got a key defensive pass interference call against former Tennessee safety Blaine Bishop for 40 yards, and McNair threw a 2-yard TD pass to Justin McCareins five plays later with 12:49 to go.
The Titans tried for a 2-point conversion, but McNair was stripped of the ball short of the goal line.
It didn't matter.
Tennessee forced Philadelphia to punt, and McNair drove the Titans 84 yards over 14 plays by going 6-of-9 for 81 yards. The highlight was a 39-yard catch-and-run by Derrick Mason on third-and-19 to the Eagles 30. McNair was 24-of-34 for 269 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
"We finished this ball game," McNair said. "We didn't finish a lot of ball games last year."
George scored five plays later on a 2-yard run around the right side. He padded the margin by running around the left side for the 2-point conversion. He ran 18 times for 42 yards, caught four passes for 38 yards and scored on a 14-yard TD pass at the beginning of the game.
Philadelphia took control midway through the first quarter with 14 points within three minutes. McNabb found James Thrash for an 18-yard TD pass, then the Eagles recovered David Akers' onside kick even though the ball went only 8 yards and was never touched by the Titans.
Officials ruled Titans linebacker Peter Sirmon had touched the ball first, giving possession to the Eagles. Fisher challenged the call after replays on the stadium's video board clearly showed the Titans never touched the ball, and only blocked Akers away. But referee Terry McAulay ruled there was no indisputable evidence from television replays to overturn the call.
- McNair now has 14 consecutive games with at least one TD pass.
- Titans WR Derrick Mason had seven catches for 109 yards, the fifth time he has topped 100 yards receiving in his last eight games.
- The Titans now have won nine straight games against NFC East opponents, and they are 7-0 against the NFC at The Coliseum.
- Hall tied Kearse's rookie record with three sacks in a game.
- Eagles LG John Welbourn broke his left leg on the opening possession.
- McNabb now has 736 pass completions, moving him into fourth all-time with the Eagles. He trails Norman Sneed (1,154).
The Associated Press News Service
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